Colonial Gas Pipeline: Panic Buying Takes Toll on Gas Prices

by Emily Morgan

Drivers in the Southeast are feeling the surge. The Colonial Pipeline shutdown has recently led to increased gas prices this week. As a result, many are resorting to panic buying — creating a shortage of the precious resource.

Although it’s primarily felt in the southeast, the price increase isn’t just in one region. According to the AAA auto group, on Wednesday, gas prices breached $3 per gallon for the first time since 2014. However, data from the fuel price app GasBuddy, a platform that tracks fuel demand, prices, and outages, reveal that drivers in the south bear much of the burden. In the region, prices in some states rose by almost 10 percent.

In Georgia, drivers really feel a hole burning in their pocket: the average price of a gallon jumped from $2.67 on May 1 to $2.90 on Wednesday. On Monday, drivers started noticing the spike two days after the pipeline shutdown began.

After the company fell victim to a cyberattack, most of the pipeline had been shut since Friday. On Thursday, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said that the restart “went well overnight.” She added, “This should mean things will return to normal by the end of the weekend.”

Officials Urge Drivers to Avoid Panic Buying

Currently, more than half of gas stations across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia are without fuel, according to GasBuddy. However, despite the shortage, officials urge consumers not to panic buy gasoline and only to fill up when necessary.

“Please don’t buy gas unless you’re low, and report any cases of price gouging,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper said in a recent tweet.

As the pipeline issue continues, the Department of Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency waived specific fuel transportation and fuel-blending requirements to ease shortage concerns.

However, according to experts, drivers might have to wait several days for gas supply to get back to normal, partly because of how slow fuel flows through the Colonial Pipeline.

According to Platts analysts, the nearly 6,000-mile pipeline runs at just five miles per hour. As a result, it might be days or even weeks for gasoline to get to most places and refill.

The pipeline also carries fuel from refineries across the Gulf Coast to New Jersey. Additionally, it provides nearly half the gasoline and diesel used by East Coast drivers. However, by midday on Thursday, operators of the pipeline expect every market it serves to receive fuel from the system.